Coverage from:
The Boston Globe - game story
The Boston Globe - commentary on Fleet Center
The Boston Globe - focus on Jon DePina
The Boston Globe - focus on Monty Mack
The Daily Hampshire Gazette - game story
The Daily Hampshire Gazette - notebook
The Daily Hampshire Gazette - column

Driving a point home
Mack and DePina lift UMass over BC
By Michael Vega, The Boston Globe Staff, 12/15/97

Forget Lawrence, Kan., Rock Chalk Jayhawk, and the ear-splitting din of Allen Fieldhouse. University of Massachusetts basketball coach Bruiser Flint was more concerned, really, with how his Boston-born Minutemen - namely, former South Boston teammates Monty Mack and Jonathan DePina - would handle their homecoming in yesterday's Commonwealth Classic showdown against Boston College at the FleetCenter.

''I was a little concerned because no player at UMass has ever played well the first time in his hometown,'' Flint said after yesterday's 65-57 victory over the Eagles, the same score as the Minutemen's victory two years ago in the first hoop meeting between these intrastate rivals. ''I was wondering what would happen if both of them played poorly, but they played well.''

Playing before 9,218, the smallest turnout since the inception of this four-game series, Mack and DePina helped the Minutemen rebound from a tough 73-71 loss at No. 3 Kansas Wednesday night by putting on a show for the hometown folks.

''I'd say it was like a home game,'' said Mack, who in his last appearance in the FleetCenter scored 32 points against New Orleans in the championship game of the 1996 Boston Shootout. ''It was a home-away-from-home game, because our real home is the Mullins Center.''

Mack, a 6-foot-3-inch sophomore guard who pushed for Flint to recruit DePina after the 5-9 freshman had been spurned by BC's admissions department, torched the Eagles with a game-high 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting. DePina, meanwhile, came off the bench and provided 29 steady minutes at the point with 5 points (2-for-5 shooting), 6 assists, 3 turnovers, and 2 rebounds.

Junior guard Charlton Clarke had 13 points, hitting his first three field goals from beyond the 3-point arc to give UMass an early 15-7 lead. Senior power forward Tyrone Weeks chipped in 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to offset Lari Ketner's foul-plagued (4 points, 6 rebounds, 4 fouls) performance.

While UMass's backcourt helped carry the day for its frontcourt, it was exactly the opposite for BC. Junior forward Kostas Maglos led the Eagles (6-4) with a career-high 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while senior center Mickey Curley chipped in 11 points and six rebounds, but it wasn't enough to overcome the poor shooting by BC's top two scorers - senior swingman Antonio Granger (8 points) and senior guard Duane Woodward (10) - who continued to struggle from the field on combined 5-for-23 shooting.

''We knew that UMass had a good first half [50 percent shooting] and we knew that they weren't going to shoot it like that in the second half,'' said Maglos, after the Minutemen took a 33-25 halftime lead. ''We were pretty close, but we need the guards to shoot the ball well, because we can't have just one guy doing it. We need everyone to play like a team.''

Four times UMass threatened to blow it open by increasing its lead to 10, but the Eagles rallied to within 4 (41-37), when freshman guard Kenny Harley drilled a 3-pointer and Maglos followed with a foul-inducing fast-break basket.

Twice the Eagles cut it to 4 (43-39 and 45-41), but the Minutemen withstood the potential rally when Woodward committed a gaffe by failing to finish a fast-break layup.

After Curley missed the follow, Mack sprang free on the outlet and easily converted a transition hoop that made it 48-41 with 11:56 to go. Ajmal Basit stuffed Curley underneath and Mack chased down the loose ball, converting it into another fast-break basket that gave UMass a 50-41 lead.

Weeks scored a foul-inducing basket and hit the free throw for a 12-point lead, 53-41, but BC put on a late flurry to halve the UMass lead when Woodward drained a trey and Maglos tipped in an offensive rebound, making it 63-57 with 12 seconds left.

''Of course, I'm disappointed with the loss,'' said BC coach Al Skinner, a 1974 UMass graduate. ''But I can walk away from here optimistic about our potential.''

Event needs a touchup with paint
By Mark Blaudschun, The Boston Globe Staff, 12/15/97

College basketball made its annual regular-season appearance yesterday at the FleetCenter. The reviews were mixed as the University of Massachusetts outplayed Boston College, 65-57, in what officials from both schools hope continues as a yearly event.

But the question lingers: Where's the best venue for a game that has potential?

The FleetCenter has the seats and a big-time atmosphere that works when the place is filled. Drawing 9,218, which is half the crowd that watched the first game between the Eagles and Minutemen two years ago, may be great in the Mullins Center or Conte Forum, but not at the Fleet, which needs bodies to create ambience.

Part of the problem is the ticket prices, which topped out at $50. That was the doing of school officials, who two years ago believed they could capitalize on a Minutemen team that was contending for the national championship and an Eagles team that was developing into a Big East tournament title contender.

But those days are gone - for the time being - so yesterday drew more of a wine-and-cheese crowd than the paint-your-face crowd that makes a big-time college basketball game such a unique event.

New Boston College athletic director Gene DeFilippo says he's a ''paint-your-face guy,'' which is why he and UMass AD Bob Marcum will sit down after the holidays and talk about ways to fine-tune this series into something bigger, if not better.

''You know, I like the idea of a game like this on campus, where kids go crazy and paint their faces and get revved up,'' said DeFilippo. ''I like that atmosphere. I'd like to see the students get more involved.''

At BC, that may take more than a few painted faces, but the trend clearly seems to be to move this game around for a few years, after it finishes its three-year engagement at the FleetCenter next season.

In a perfect world, the Fleet would be packed with more than 18,000 fans, both teams would be in the Top 20, and the game would be the talk of the town.

But this is Boston, not Chapel Hill or Durham. College basketball is not a passion here as it is in other hoop hot spots.

The game must be shopped around, marketed. Maybe playing the game on campus will help, where tickets can be more reasonably priced.

Or maybe it needs a boost such as an outside addition of Top 25 teams, which would set up a ''Wooden Classic format'' such as basketball guru Ted Sarandis is pushing. Or maybe it needs teams like the University of Connecticut and the University of Rhode Island or Providence to be part of it to create an afternoon of New England flavor.

''There's a lot of ways you can go,'' said Marcum. ''Maybe rotating the game around is the best way to do it, take it from here to the Mullins Center, to BC. That way you give more opportunities for your season ticket-holders.

The game needs to be played, of course. Everyone agrees on that. ''This game has a great history,'' said Boston College coach Al Skinner, a UMass alumnus. ''I think it's great for the state. It also brings a lot of attention to New England basketball.''

Skinner knows in his heart that better times will be coming at BC and that the games against UMass can be molded into more classic terms of traditional rivals going at each other each year.

UMass coach Bruiser Flint also knows what's that like. ''I grew up in the Big Five,'' said Flint, a former St. Joseph's player. ''It's about kids who grew up around each other getting together and playing each winter and then replaying the game in the summer and trash-talking each other. It's a great thing.''

But the way it is set up now is not the best thing. Yesterday's game might have been a form of entertainment, especially to the UMass fans. But it was not an event, nothing that could be called a classic.

Marcum argues that you can't have that every year, especially when the talent level drops or changes.

But you can build a rivalry. And if someone were willing to agree to drop the ticket prices to the normal $12 to $15 level, you might even come close to filling the FleetCenter.

But it's more than that. At yesterday's game an entire row of courtside seats - the best in the house - were empty, which meant that even the high rollers didn't think UMass-BC was worth the price of admission.

It is, of course, but at a lower price and in a different venue, one in which walking around with your face painted and running up and down the aisles wouldn't bring about a call for security, but rather a television camera and a nod of approval from people like Gene DeFilippo and Bob Marcum, who want to make this game better but are not quite sure how to do it.

Fanning DePina's flame
By Joe Burris and Michael Vega, The Boston Globe Staff, 12/15/97

University of Massachusetts freshman guard Jonathan DePina tried to treat yesterday's contest against Boston College as just another game, despite playing against a school that denied him admission, even though he met NCAA standards. DePina, who had 5 points, a team-high 6 assists, and 3 turnovers, said it felt like another game - except for a few heckling BC fans.

''I wasn't really thinking about what happened, but when the fans starting saying things to me, I started playing a little harder,'' said DePina. ''They were yelling and stuff.''

Asked what the fans were saying, DePina said, ''I can't say.'' At that moment, UMass coach Bruiser Flint, seated adjacent to his freshman guard, said, ''Hey, he don't play for BC, so it don't matter.''

Later, when asked again, DePina said, ''I don't know what they were saying, but I could hear them.''

Recruiting tale

Flint said when DePina helped Monty Mack move into his dorm room, he visited with the South Boston guard, who was intent on visiting BC. ''He came to my house for a cookout and asked me what I was going to do,'' Flint said, smiling. ''I told him I still wanted to take a look at Shannon Crooks [who signed with St. John's], so he said, `I'm going to go to BC.' Monty just about wanted to cry when he heard that. But, as [former UMass coach John Calipari] used to say, things have a way of working out in the end.''

Scouting report

Charlton Clarke acknowledged that when UMass prepared for the Eagles, strict emphasis was placed on stopping BC's top two scorers - senior swingman Antonio Granger (16.3 ppg) and Duane Woodward (13.4 ppg) - but that BC's frontcourt did catch them by surprise. ''Yeah, especially the big kid,'' Clarke said, referring to junior forward Kostas Maglos, who led the Eagles with a career-high 20 points. ''He had very quick feet and he had a good touch around the basket.'' ... Woodward and Granger combined to score 18 points on 5-for-23 shooting, marking the fourth straight game they have struggled from the field. ''The seniors are the top three scorers on this team and it's going to take at least two out of three to win a game,'' said Woodward.

Mack's mother applies press
By Joe Burris, The Boston Globe Staff, 12/15/97

Some time between the opening tip and the final buzzer, Monty Mack scanned the crowd of 9,218 in search of his mother. Ann Mack had never seen her son in a collegiate game, so Monty, UMass's upstart first-year guard, wanted to make sure she got tickets.

He didn't see her until after he had gone out and did something former Massachusetts stars such as Lou Roe and Jim McCoy did not: Play a major role in his team's victory in his first game before friends and family.

Mack tallied a career-high 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting and had four assists, leading the Minutemen to a 65-57 victory over Boston College in the third installment of the Commonwealth Classic. Yet the sophomore said that while his mother was impressed, she also reminded him he had off-the-court hurdles forthcoming.

''She said, `Good job. Keep your head up. Now, go back to school and take care of your finals,''' said Mack, a former South Boston star who continues to shine at the collegiate level despite sitting out last year for failing to meet eligibility requirements. He continued to improve his defensive play and did a great job of dribble penetration against BC's zone pressure.

His effort yesterday eclipsed his career-high 19 points in the Minutemen's 73-71 loss to Kansas Wednesday night, where Mack committed a turnover in the closing seconds on UMass's next-to-last possession. He had three turnovers yesterday, but they were not a factor. On the other hand, he forced a crucial backcourt turnover by BC guard Kenny Harley with seven-10ths of a second left, helping seal it for the Minutemen (5-3).

''I was just looking at it as another game in Boston,'' said Mack, who helped lead South Boston High to consecutive state titles (1994-96). He still rates winning the Boston Shootout title and beating Brookline in the Eastern Mass. final as his most memorable FleetCenter games. ''I've been playing down here for years, and I've played in front of these crowds for many years.''

Joined by Charlton Clarke and former South Boston teammate Jonathan DePina, Mack helped limit the BC guards to 5-for-16 shooting. ''Coach wanted us to pressure them, keep a hand in their faces, and let them know that someone was always there.''

''[Mack] came up with some big shots when we needed it,'' said UMass coach Bruiser Flint, who said he will use the Mack-DePina-Clarke three-guard combination more often this season, particularly when the Minutemen are in need of more point production.

As in the Kansas game, Mack came up with several big baskets yesterday to keep BC in check after UMass mounted a double-digit lead. The Eagles cut it to 4 several times in the second half, including 45-41 with 14:00 left. But after a free throw by Clarke, Mack came up with consecutive layups, putting the Minutemen up, 50-41.

''I think he's starting to feel more comfortable on the floor,'' said BC coach Al Skinner. ''He's playing against teams like Kansas with a lot of confidence, and today he demonstrated that. As the year goes on, he's going to continue to improve. With that improvement, he'll make UMass a better club.''

UM backcourt in the forefront
By Michael Kelley, Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff, 12/15/97

BOSTON - Eight games have been played in the University of Massachusetts men's basketball season, but it's hard to get a good read on the team. Entering the season, many people felt UMass' strength would be its frontcourt. In the Minutemen's last two contests, however, it's been the young guards who have come through.

Junior Charlton Clarke and first-year sophomore Monty Mack combined for 33 points as UMass defeated Boston College, 65-57, Sunday in the third annual Commonwealth Classic held at the FleetCenter.

When the season began it seemed obvious that the frontcourt would carry the load. Senior forward Tyrone Weeks came back for another year. Then there was junior center Lari Ketner. The 6-11, 268-pounder spent the summer working against some of the best big men in the country and already was being tabbed as a potential NBA lottery pick. The guards, meanwhile, were young - one junior, a first-year sophomore and two freshmen.

In the first six games of the season Ketner averaged 19 points a game while Weeks pumped in 13.5. Things were going as planned. But in the last two games, UMass has relied on Clarke and Mack to stay close with No. 3 Kansas (Wednesday) and to beat BC Sunday.

Mack, who sat out last season for academic requirements, Sunday scored a career-high 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting from the floor, including 2-of-2 3-pointers, in his first game in his home town in nearly two years.

"I thought he played real well," said UMass coach Bruiser Flint. "I was a little afraid because since I've been at UMass, anyone who plays his first game at home doesn't play a great game. They always play real bad. Monty played great. He made some big shots and did some good things."

Mack's 20 points eclipsed his previous career-high of 19 set against the Kansas Jayhawks. UMass lost that nailbiter, 73-71, but Mack was still huge in front of a rambunctious Allen Fieldhouse crowd of 16,300 Jayhawk fanatics. Sunday, playing in front of about 170 family and friends, Mack rose to the challenge again.

"I felt all right," Mack said. "I just wanted to go out and play the game and just imagine that it was just another game. I wanted to play as hard as coach wanted me to."

Jon DePina battles for the loose ball.
Clarke also had his second strong outting. Despite dealing with foul trouble in the second half, he made four of six shots from the field, including 3-for-5 3-pointers, and finished with 13 points. He has now made 8 of 11 three-pointers in his last two games. One reason for his shooting success is that he's playing the shooting guard spot more because of the development of freshman Jonathan DePina at the point.

"It's not a big adjustment because I played there last year," Clarke said.

Clarke and Mack also combined for 21 of UMass' 33 first half points.

"Their guard play was really good," said BC coach Al Skinner. "Clarke must have thought he was still in Kansas (scoring 22 points, including five 3-pointers). They played with a lot of confidence and that's what got them off to such a great start."

UMass ran out to a 9-0 first-half lead and built it as high as 14 (23-9) as Clarke was 3-for-3 from beyond the three-point arc and Mack was 2-for-2. But while the guards were scoring at will, the post presence from Ketner and Weeks wasn't there. That would prove costly in the second half because Clarke would run into foul trouble while Mack was guarded a lot more closely.

"Eventually we knew that they'd come inside," Skinner said. "They always do their damage that way. They got control with their rebounding and that was clearly the difference in the ball game."

UMass out-rebounded BC 44-29, but the Eagle frontcourt of Kostas Maglos (20 points), Mickey Curley (11) and Antonio Granger (8) outscored the Minutemen, 39-19.

"(Ketner) didn't get any shots to fall and he started to pout a little bit," Flint said. "Neither he nor Ty made a basket inside of 5 feet in the second half."

Ketner had his worst game of the season, making just 2 of 12 shots from the floor for a season-low four points. Weeks, meanwhile, hit a couple of his pattened foul line jumpers and finished with 13 points.

"They killed us inside," Weeks said. "You have (poor shooting) days like that. You have to keep working hard in practice and those shots you missed hopefully in the next game you make."

The ineffective scoring by UMass' two big men, several fouls (UMass had 20 fouls to BC's 14, five of which came in the final 1:42 of the game) and the tight rein on Mack kept the Eagles in the contest.

BC, which trailed 33-25 at the half, never let UMass run away with the game, and by outscoring UMass 16-12 over the next six minutes, pulled to within four at 45-41 with 13:55 to play. The four-point margin was the closest BC had gotten all game, but depth soon would become a factor. The Eagles play their five starters the majority of the game so the Minutemen had to run them out of the game.

Ajmal Basit's definition of "in-your-face defense".
Clarke got things going with a free throw and then UMass pushed the tempo. Mack grabbed a loose-ball rebound and flew down court for an easy breakaway layup to make it 48-41. Then, following Ajmal Basit's blocked shot on Maglos, Mack came down again for his second consecutive uncontested layup. Basit rejected another shot and on UMass' next trip down the floor, Weeks had a tap-in and hit a free throw to put the Minutemen on top, 52-41, with just under 11 minutes to play.

"We got it down to four, but unfortunately we didn't deliver," Skinner said. "This team doesn't have a large margin of error and giving up those kinds of opportunities makes all the difference for us."

BC reduced the deficit to seven twice, the last one (57-50) with 5:29 to go.

Basit was huge off the bench once again for the Minutemen, making 3 of 4 shots from the field, 2 of 2 from the free throw line for 8 points, while pulling down six rebounds and blocking four shots.

Fans stay from third Classic
By Michael Kelley, Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff, 12/15/97

BOSTON - They call it the Commonwealth Classic, but judging by the crowd size, it could have been renamed, "The Bay State Bomb." Only 9,218 fans were in attendance Sunday for the University of Massachusetts' 65-57 win over Boston College at the FleetCenter.

In what is supposed to be a game of bragging rights for two of the best basketball schools in Massachusetts, many fans decided not to attend for the first time since the Commonwealth Classic was developed three years ago. Why? No official answer was given, but there are several theories:

* Neither team is ranked. In fact, the Eagles have only five legitimate players and two others that came in for spot duty.

* Neither team has been drawing well for home games all season.

* The NFL playoff picture is heating up, with a big slate of games on TV Sunday.

* Tickets were expensive. Seats went for $50 and $35, and even though student tickets were only $20, Christmas is only 10 days away.

The two teams used to play each other on a yearly basis and three years ago, when the Classic was introduced, people clamored for a BC-UMass game. In 1995, a capacity crowd of 18,974 fans showed up to watch the Minutemen defeat the Eagles, 65-57. A year later, with Larry Bird in attendance, a pro-UMass crowd of 15,215 fans witnessed a 90-78 win.

Sunday's contest was once again a pro-UMass crowd, but it wasn't an atmosphere that most college basketball players would like to play in.

"Tickets are pretty expensive and it's Christmas time," said UMass coach Bruiser Flint. "The crowds will be back and it should be exciting."

The final year of this series is next season and there is speculation it may not be renewed.

STREAK CONTINUES: UMass has now won 72 consecutive games in which it has held a lead of 10 points or larger since the 1994-95 season. The Minutemen are 4-0 this year in such games and had a lead as high as 14 against Boston College Sunday midway through the first half.

NEUTRAL SITES: This is the first of four consecutive neutral-site games for the Minutemen. UMass heads to Las Vegas Saturday to play Colorado in the Las Vegas Shootout. Then there's UConn in the MassMutual U Game in Hartford Dec. 23 and Cincinnati at the Gatorade Rock-n-Roll Shootout in Cleveland Dec. 27. UMass will have played in three Shootouts this season. The Minutmen played in the Great Alaska Shootout over Thanksgiving.

BIG FEAST - UMass has now won 10 of its last 12 meetings against a Big East opponents since the 1990-91 season. The Minutemen are 2-0 vs. the Big East this season, defeating Seton Hall 73-60 in Alaska. UMass' only losses in this stretch are to UConn (64-61) and Georgetown (86-62, both during the 1996-97 season.

FREE THROW WOES - The Minutemen have been deadly from the free throw line, but Sunday they didn't show their form. UMass entered the BC game shooting 76.9 percent from the line, but Sunday shot just 57 percent (8-for-14). Part of their problem was that they didn't get to the line that often. UMass was whistled for 20 fouls while BC only had 14, five coming in the final 1:42 when the Eagles were forced to foul.

A 'Bruing' for Flint in Boston
By Andrew Ayres, Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 12/15/97

BOSTON - First the crowd booed Gov. Paul Cellucci. Then they booed UMass president William Bulger. Then Bruiser Flint got "Bru"-d.

That's a good thing for Flint. The FleetCenter fans definitely were "Bruing" him, not booing, during the presentation of a silver bowl.

Frankly, he deserved to be Brued. Flint's team looked good, not great, in dispatching Boston College Sunday for the third straight time in the Commonwealth Classic.

The Minutemen have won them all, but this was the first time they did it with the full Monty.

Playing his first college game in Boston, Monty Mack buried BC by hitting two-thirds of his shots for 20 points. Then he really had to go to work, hugging and greeting friends and relatives behind the bench. He was hot from the floor and stayed warm by addressing the media in his winter coat.

He had been the last one to leave the Celtics floor, his hometown court. Second to last was none other than teammate Jonathan DePina, who was signing autographs for a young fan hanging out of the stands.

That's the way to make a return after showing they could play big on the road. The Kansas game last week may have been a loss, but it caused observers to hearken back to four years ago when people who follow UMass got genuinely excited about the team, like the time the Minutemen beat No. 1 North Carolina.

Mack and DePina truly are the Backcourt Buddies, Part 2. The first of the series was, of course, Travieso and Padilla, a show whose run has ended.

The last UMass game, a 71-69 Kansas loss, will be the standard by which all subsequent UMass games will be measured this season. Charlton Clarke had one of the all-time great games in that one. If handshakes were votes, Clarke could lend Cellucci a few thousand of the ones he's gotten this week.

The best tribute, Clarke said, came from Roy Williams, the Kansas coach, when the coach told Clarke he knew he was going to be good when he was recruiting him.

That loss in Kansas will make believers, just as a bad win over Marshall can make non-believers.

This game was somewhere in between those two and was witnessed by a half-full house. At this time of year where wallets are in crunch time, it cost $35 just to get in the door at the FleetCenter.

If you came to watch Mack play, you got your money's worth. As for Lari Ketner's subpar day, fans might be asking for the change, please.

A whole row of front-row VIP seats went unsold. Entire sections - hello up there nobody in section 326, the abandoned equivalent of the Mullins Center's section QQ - were empty. This cannot go on, but UMass Athletic Director Bob Marcum cautioned against judging the series by one down year.

As for drawing fans, UMass is holding up its end of the bargain. About nine grand of the fans here were cheering for UMass. About eight fans were rooting on BC (I am exaggerating). Where have you gone, Eagles fans, who more than a decade ago rooted on a team with a converted tight end, Rich Shrigley, as their small forward in the NCAA tournament, and sent shot-putting Michael Adams to the NBA?

We're leaving it to a Northampton guy to right the ship. Gene DeFilippo, in only his third month as athletic director of the embattled program, was talking Sunday with his good friend, UMass AD Bob Marcum. He said they are going to sit down sometime after Christmas to discuss the future of this series.

We know those two will have no problem talking since DeFilippo was making polite inquiries about a recent growth spurt of Marcum's dog.

The two teams have one more game contracted for the Fleet. Here's some advice: Move the game to Worcester, home of the most pro-UMass crowd in the state.

DeFilippo will know what to do. His recent professional stops include Kentucky (assistant AD) and Villanova (AD). But the time had come to return for Anne and Gene DeFilippo to come home.

"Anne and I are happy to be back. At age 35, it wasn't important to me to be near home. At age 47, it's different," said DeFilippo.

DeFilippo may be one of the few people living in Boston right now with Kentucky ties who is not in the employ of the Celtics. When DeFilippo's move to his home state became public, a certain million-dollar coach gave him a jingle.

"The first call I got was from Rick Pitino. He told me that I couldn't live without him," DeFillipo said.

Al Skinner looked good as the Eagles new coach on the home floor of the Celtics. Those with Classic Sports Network were very lucky indeed last week to see him playing on the same 1978 Detroit Pistons team as M.L. Carr and Chris Ford.

Those two have both coached the Celtics. Like his former teammates, Skinner is coaching an overmatched team from Boston.

Flint, meanwhile, was his usual focused self, standing about three feet on the court during play. He was the team's sixth man out there, literally.

Afterward, he talked about how reluctantly he had come to appreciate how much the Celtics mean to the Massachusetts guys with the UMass team. It must be noted that Flint, the Philadelphia guy weaned on Sixers' Dr. J highlights in his youth, was dressed in brown suit, brown tie and brown shoes, not a hint of Celtic green in sight.

He said he learned how important the Celtics are when he saw a member of his staff taking a picture of the Celtic logo at center court.

UMass and BC may not be meeting on this court forever, but it still would be a great place to play if it were filled to the top and the fans were cheering and Bruing.

Mack and DePina enjoy return home
UMass' duo shines in victory over BC
By Bill Doyle, Worcester Telegram & Gazette Staff, 12/15/97

BOSTON -- Happy homecomings have been a rarity for UMass players.

UMass coach Bruiser Flint remembers Tony Barbee stinking up the joint when he returned home to play Purdue. Lou Roe scored only two points against La Salle when UMass played in his hometown of Atlantic City, N.J. Tyrone Weeks and Lari Ketner both had tough times in their returns to Philadelphia.

So Flint was concerned about guards Monty Mack and Jonathan DePina coming back to their hometown to play against Boston College yesterday at the FleetCenter in the Commonwealth Classic.

"I was a little afraid because since I've been here at UMass," Flint said, "everybody who played their first game in their hometown has always played really bad."

As it turned out, Flint's worries were groundless. The latest return of the natives worked out quite well for the Minutemen as they won, 65-57.

Mack led the 5-3 Minutemen in scoring with a career-high 20 points. The 6-foot-3 sophomore sank 8 of 12 shots, including both of his 3-pointers, and dished out 4 assists. DePina, Mack's former teammate at South Boston High, scored only 5 points, but had a team-high 6 assists.

"I'm not surprised," Flint said. "I'm happy."

Academically ineligible to play, Mack sat in the stands when UMass beat BC at the FleetCenter last year, but he has shined in this building before. Mack scored 29 points to lead South Boston over Brookline in the Eastern Mass. title game as a senior and that summer pumped in a game-high 32 to lead his team to victory in the Boston Shootout championship game.

DePina had even more incentive yesterday because the BC basketball program offered him a scholarship, only to withdraw the offer after the admissions department rejected him.

"I wasn't really thinking about what happened," DePina said, "but when some (BC) fans started yelling things, it made me try harder."

"I wanted him to play better than me after all the things he went through with BC," Mack said of DePina, his good friend.

The Minutemen needed Mack's big game because Ketner played yesterday as if he was the nervous kid playing in front of his hometown fans. The 6-foot-10 junior center had scored at least 14 points in every game this season, but he hit only 2 of 12 shots and contributed only 4 points and 6 rebounds against the Eagles.

Asked if Ketner was under the weather, Flint answered, "I hope so. He didn't get anything to fall, then he started to pout a little bit."

Weeks had 13 points and 13 rebounds. Another Boston area native, Mike Babul of North Attleboro, scored only 2 points, but had 6 rebounds and helped limit BC's Antonio Granger to 2 of 12 shooting and 8 points, half of his season average.

"If Granger gets off, we're in trouble," Flint said.

Kostas Maglos led the 6-4 Eagles with a career-high 20 points. Mickey Curley had 11 and Duane Woodward 10 for BC, which got only 2 points and 26 minutes from its bench. BC coach Al Skinner, a former UMass star and longtime Rhode Island coach, fell to 2-19 against his alma mater.

Mack and Charlton Clarke combined to sink UMass' first five 3-point attempts and give the Minutemen an early 23-9 lead. The Eagles never were in front, but they did manage to cut the deficit to 45-41 on Curley's jumper with 14 minutes left. Mack then scored two fast-break layups to key a 12-0 run that put UMass back in charge, 57-41.

DePina said he had about 200 family members and friends at the game. Mack said he had just under that. If they did, they helped account for a good portion of the disappointing crowd. Attendance was announced as 9,218, less than half of the capacity crowd of 18,974 this game drew two years ago when the BC-UMass rivalry was resumed and 6,000 shy of last year's game.

The game is contracted to return to the FleetCenter next year, but athletic directors Bob Marcum of UMass and Gene DeFilippo of BC both said the game may return to campus sites thereafter. Marcum would like the FleetCenter to remain part of a rotation including the campuses.

The public was willing to pay the $50 and $35 ticket prices the past two years, but not yesterday, since neither team was ranked. DeFilippo said he would look at reducing the ticket prices for next year.

Massachusetts Minutemen 65
Boston College Eagles 57
The Commonwealth Classic
at the Fleet Center, Boston MA

                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Weeks           32  6-14   1-1  5-13  2  4   13
Babul           26   1-3   0-0   2-6  1  2    2
Ketner          23  2-12   0-0   3-6  1  4    4
Clarke          26   4-6   2-7   0-3  3  4   13
Mack            35  8-12   2-2   0-4  4  2   20
Depina          29   2-5   1-2   0-2  6  2    5
Kirkland         3   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Basit           26   3-4   2-2   0-6  0  2    8
TOTALS         200 26-56  8-14 10-40 17 20   65

Percentages: FG-.464, FT-.571. 3-Point Goals:
5-7, .714 (Clarke 3-5, Mack 2-2). Team rebounds:
4. Blocked shots: 5 (Clarke 2, Babul, Weeks,
Ketner). Turnovers: 14 (Basit 3, Depina 3, Mack
3, Ketner 2, Weeks 2, Clarke). Steals: 5 (Clarke
2, Babul, Ketner, Weeks).

                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Granger         32  2-12   4-4   1-2  1  0    8
Maglos          35  9-11   2-4   2-8  1  1   20
Curley          36  4-14   3-5   4-6  0  3   11
Harley          32   2-4   1-1   2-6  1  3    6
Woodward        39  3-11   2-4   1-3  7  3   10
Beerbohm         9   1-2   0-0   0-1  0  3    2
Rodriguez       17   0-1   0-1   0-1  1  1    0
TOTALS         200 21-55 12-19 10-27 11 14   57

Percentages: FG-.382, FT-.632. 3-Point Goals:
3-12, .250 (Granger 0-5, Harley 1-1, Woodward
2-5, Rodriguez 0-1). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked
shots: 7 (Curley 4, Granger, Harley, Woodward).
Turnovers: 10 (Maglos 3, Woodward 3, Harley 2,
Granger). Steals: 7 (Curley 4, Granger, Harley,
Massachusetts      33   32  -   65
Boston College     25   32  -   57
Technical fouls: None.  A: 9,218. Officials: John
Cahill, Ted Valentine, Robert Donato.

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